Day 17- Post Thoughts and Memories - ๐ŸŒ MWT 2017

Wednesday September 13th, 2017
Hiked 2.9 miles

4:03 AM

 I am glad to have made it safely home. Our landing had me wondering. We were about to touch down and suddenly the engines go full throttle and we shoot up at a 45 degree angle. After about 1500 feet the pilot banked right into his flight pattern and came on the radio. "We were lined up on wrong runway .. direction, ATC came on and said to pull up so we will fly around 5 or 10 min and come back... sorry folks."

I was surprised that the only people that were concerned was one flight attendant that I could see looking around like she was hoping for the best outcome, or praying. Everyone else looked like this was just normal and had complete faith in the pilot. Thankfully we made two more right turns and were apparently lined up on the correct runway, because we landed safely.

1130 pm

Well I have organized my post and pasted my journal entries into the appropriate days they happened.  During my trip I slept when I was tired and saw various people around the world at various times of day.  It seems like six months since I went to Thailand. This trip was incredibly fast paced, and if I didn't pay attention to what was going on all the time I would have missed it. It was uncomfortable at times to be surrounded by no one that spoke English. It was difficult to communicate in Asian countries where you have no knowledge of their language and pointing is considered rude.

Along the trip I realized the risk I was taking if I was to get sick.  That exhausting schedule could have become a nightmare in a heartbeat. Regardless of how skilled your doctor is, if you can not communicate with him you remain oblivious to your diagnosis.

I learned little things along the way, far too many to mention in this post. It is the details and similarities, the differences and contrast. The shock of doing the entire world so quickly gave me a worldwide snapshot.  Rather than vacation then return, grow older, mature, then visit another place.  I saw it all at once, taking it all in relatively in a very short amount of time. Smelling the warm air in south Asia, and then going to bed in the chill air of Ireland.  It was the mind-melt of taking off from Iceland at 6:30pm and landing in San Francisco after a 9 hour flight, two hours later at 8:30pm.  It was being tired enough that you can recognize the kind European man on the flight with you to ask you if you were alright.

It was a chance to understand a very clear difference and similarity in all people around the world when you look or act differently than they do.

I remember reading that the guest sees more in an hour than the host sees all year.  That could not be more true.  I learned this summer that when you visit a place there is a honeymoon that can vary from place to place.  The Grand Canyon had a honeymoon of about an hour, and then I was ready to go.

After awhile you feel the sun, see the bugs, smell the horse-shit and are ready to go.  The honeymoon is over.

When I went to Phi Phi I expected a long passionate honeymoon that made me long for the return, but that was not the case. The trip was exhausting, but you won't hear me complaining.  A truth dawned on me on the long drive home from the airport last night. If you look for the beauty in things, pretty soon you will see everything's beautiful. Beauty can be replaced with interest, amazement, and can refer to people and things. How you look at things is the most important thing we can pay attention to.  Take a walk-about on the tourist trail of the world.  Listen to the 23 year old kid from Germany impressing the French girls at the breakfast table with his knowledge of America from a 2 day visit he had to Atlanta and getting every fact wrong.  He was not wrong to his experience.  His experience taught him what he spoke of was real, and even though what he said was completely ridiculous and full of generalizations, stereotypes, and colored by Hollywood. I knew his story would inspire 4 more tickets to the great USA to be bought with Euros at a discounted exchange rate.

My trip has inspired so many stories and I have only documented a handful of my experiences in my journal. Every smell of every food in 7 countries was delightfully different. I recognized companies from home everywhere.  My debit card worked at any ATM without a problem, and most merchants that accepted a major credit card.

Cash was easily used everywhere.  It is not an efficient way to travel so many countries.  There are exchange rates, and you pay when you re-exchange what you don't spend.  It can get expensive quickly as it is all % based, or wrapped up into their posted conversion, which may differ slightly from the actual or change daily. It is great to do if you want to check out the cool and very different currencies around the world.  You can carry many coins in a small bag and it might be worth it to you to come back home with coins as token gifts to your friends and family from around the world.

 Every experience I had overseas was valuable. I will always remember every person I met and every look in their eyes.  The world is a huge fucking place. There are thousands of miles with people stacked up five high, and thousands of miles of barren unused land. Just as different as everything you see, you are a ambassador to everything you are. Everyone sees your country in your eyes and if you stick around long enough you can see their country in theirs.

Nobody anywhere means you anymore harm than anyone else. They will know about you very quickly and remember your name.  Everyone will have a copy of your passport because you are on their soil.  The locals will know more about you than you know of any of them.  Especially if you are an American that has a blog.  They could find out so much more about you because in their country they feel like they can not speak freely so they will most likely not have a blog.  You will not feel like you can speak freely either, if you know the laws overseas. Travel over there, and feel what it is like to read a newspaper and notice that there is no CSI, crime scene investigations, due process, or forensic autopsies going on.  What you will find quickly is that the people are the law.  If you step out of line many of them will carry you to the police station where the Royal Police will impose monarchy laws upon you swiftly and effectively.

You do not have to be a lawless man either to be a criminal in another place.  You can legally smoke a joint here in California, fly on a plane to Thailand, have a legal bucket of booze, act like a fool, get carried to the police station, ordered to take a drug test, and become a criminal without breaking a single law.  You will pay the local consequences wherever you are at.  It does not matter how good your American lawyer is if they do not speak the language or know the legal processes.  Your local lawyer may be very good, but you will pay dearly and hope he understands you.

When you go to Europe they see you walking around just like in our country.  There are cameras all over the place, and even security officers wear cameras.  It is so effective the local police don't even worry about carrying firearms.  They are all friendly and have a baton, maybe pepper spray, and handcuffs.

I am pretty sure Russia knew of my trek through their airport, even before I got off the plane they knew the contents of my bag, and interrogated be with their beautiful blue eyes before I got to enter the terminal.

Korea had really fancy facial recognition software.  They had to calibrate it since my facial hair was a different than my passport.  Once I walked passed the robot cleaning the airport floor, very slowly and thoroughly,  I realized they will know how many times I go to the bathroom after I long forgot.  In fact privacy was incredibly different to Koreans as I noticed when the young Korean woman took a picture of what I was writing on my keyboard.

Hong Kong is like New York city.  There was a diversity I have never seen in California, perhaps maybe in Los Angeles. People from everywhere speaking every language were in a hurry to continue their business at their next meetings.  They all looked very tired, like they couldn't give a flying fuck what the Hong Kong dollar looked like.  It is very decorative and I suggest you check it out.  They cut their coins like flowers. I don't think they are worry about you in Hong Kong.  Like any big city, they hope for the best, and sort out the rest.

I stuck out so bad in Wuhan, China that there was no way I was going to do anything questionable.  Everyone in the world had an eye on me.  I know this because none of them showed the slightest care of letting me know they noticed me.  I could have walked through a crowd and it would part without anyone making eye contact with me.

I learned that security is so relative to the perceived threat.  I left with my favorite small pocket knife.  I knew you could fly legally with it out of the US, but had no idea how far I would get.  It is small enough that I could do no harm with it, but I do use it for small repairs, trimming my fingernails, cutting tape, and cutting tags off clothes. I made it out of San Francisco, through Wuhan China, on a domestic flight in Thailand, and it was not confiscated until I was leaving Thailand. It was a shame because it was my favorite pocket knife, but I can get another on Amazon. I was kind of glad I got it confiscated when I got to Ireland.  I ask if you could have a pocket knife and an young local exclaimed, "Aye, what does anyone need with a knife, you'll go straight to the slammer for that for sure. No way, you can't have a pocket knife in Dublin!"  I didn't look it up to be true or not because Thailand security disarmed me long before.

I learned that you can fit in better along the tourist route in Asia.  Unless you can speak the local language forget it.  Start walking through the countryside and people will see you coming a mile away from their porch and do a drive by on their scooter just to get a closer look at the lost tourist.  I fit in pretty well in Ireland.  Well enough that people ask me if I was local before I left.  I just wore European sandals, tight pants, and a sweat top from the local Penney's and grunted for communication.  I learned quickly that when you go into a bar and want a Guinness, you must say exactly, and in your best Irish accent, "I'll have a pint of Guinness Ale."  It is not beer, not just Guinness. Guinness makes a lot of different beers and I don't see that Ale is one of them, but when you say that you are always given a correctly poured cold glass of their delicious chocolate beer with thirty million bubbles in each glass, poured with precision, patiently enough to wait for the last step, and placed correctly on the bar with the Golden Harp facing you.

Not used or needed shit I lugged around the world..
  • personal dosimeter (im a nerd)
  • neck pillow (wrap up your sweater, works better)
  • military heavy duty poncho (if I would have needed it, it is most valuable)

The most important thing I learned was how we are different from other countries.  I am comfortable with being American, as it is all I have ever really known.  This trip was one of the single most important vacations I have ever had.  It was long, it was tiring, it was quick. There is no impression like the first impression though.  Every interaction, every purchase, every ticket counter, and every immigration line I stood in was a chance to see the culture and people.  To see our similarities and differences.  To see how far we have come as a country, and how far we have to go. To understand the world is a very large place with millions of people all trying to do it right.  Right for there family, right for their country, and right for themselves.  Everyone has very different interpretations of every concept, every word, every tone of voice.

The most important appreciation I got from being overseas is the simple fact that in America no one is worried that what they might share with the world will come back to hurt them. That free speech thing is an amazing concept. Everyday we post public messages to social media without giving them very much thought. There is very little chance that one mans rantings will mean anything at all and so no one worries about what we say.  We like things that may be posted by extremist groups, we share them, and comment on them without worry that we will simply disappear into the night.  There are no dead laying on the side of our roads, and when someone goes missing we have a complex and developed network of communication to locate them.  

Furthermore our free speech means that those in our office need to be strong. A king with no criticism never really knows how his people feel.